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A tale of two summer camps in Gaza City

Tens of thousands of children from the Gaza Strip spend at least part of their holidays in special summer camps, arranged around a wide array of activities. Some, organized by the United Nations, offer sports, art and dance classes. Others, backed by Gaza's Islamist rulers Hamas, include fun and games, while seeking to reinforce religious values and awareness of the conflict with Israel. Reuters photographer Mohammed Salem explored the differences between the two kinds of camps.

By Mohammed Salem, Reuters photographer

Since summer vacations started, every morning as I go to the office I see lots of children on the way to their summer camps, traveling either on foot or by bus. Based on my previous visits to these camps, the stark contrast between the various activities on offer occurred to me as an interesting subject for a story.

I started my exploratory tour by visiting a Hamas-run summer camp, where I spent about 20 minutes watching the youngsters and seeing what they were really interested in. My attention was caught by their tough determination and ability to perform military-style exercises under the heat of the sun.

The scenes I watched in that camp were in complete contrast to what children are offered by the U.N. fun weeks. So for my story I planned to find two schoolchildren who were at the different camps and document their daily activities to illustrate their personal lives. Read more from the Reuters Photographers Blog.